Don't talk about the war!

2:59 PM

    This past week, and if I am honest, for quite some time now, I have been doing quite a bit of thinking about 'the war' and its current affect on German culture and spirituality. The feeling about WWII in Germany is sure, not quite rosey or as one German comedian so aptly put it, "Don't talk about the war!". And yet, that is exactly what I plan on doing here :).
    In my German small group, we are currently discussing some of the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that famous German pastor who was actively involved in an attempt to kill Hitler. This week we watched a film about his life. Now, watching any film having to do with WWII with Germans is always a bit interesting. I would compare it to being privy to a cutter slowly bleeding themselves. It is often a lesson in self hatred and national disgust the likes of which I have not often encountered. Even from school age in Deutschland, children are paraded through the empty halls of concentration camps in an intense effort to instill in them the atrocities they are capable of and perhaps leaving them with the feeling of a puppy whose face has just been shoved in some freshly made piddle. "Look what you did! Naughty!"
     The Germans themselves are an interesting study in the depths of guilt one can arrive at. Now, before my next thought, I will preface by saying I in no means take lightly the Holocaust or the undeniable fact that millions of people were heartlessly and barbarically murdered. There is and never will be anything to asuage this except the blood of the most sinless Jew that ever lived, namely, Jesus Christ. In one sense, yes, it is good and even vital for the Germans to recognize and keep alive this immense crime, however there is a strange lack of redemption in the message being preached! Prior to WWII, the Germans were known as a people with a strong sense of national and cultural pride. It was this same pride that Hitler banked upon when forming his Nazi revolution. It was also this pride that was twisted into a nationalistic vanity that believed that this people were somehow ordained by birth as those gloriously exalted over all other races: the real 'chosen people'. A dangerous lie indeed.
    In C.S. Lewis' book Mere Christianity, he emphasizes that the first sin of Satan was not, the original power play for God's spot, but the sin of pride. This pride birthed the lust for power and got him kicked clear out of the heavenly gates. He then passed this lie on to Eve (oh, how misery loves company!) that if she would eat of the tree she would be "like God". Surely this pride and lust for power has never been mirrored so clearly as in the Third Reich! Hitler's raving speeches and call for Aryan pride were just the same ol' dog who ain't learned any new tricks.
    I do not delve into this subject matter as a neat little history lesson. We all know far more than we would probably like about WWII. The fact is, the war's not over here. The attempteed genocide that was commited in this place has spilled onto the spiritual ground in such a way that the land cries out as with the blood of Abel. Its not over. There has been recognition, yes. There are still half-dead Nazis being pulled out of old folks homes and put on trial for the murder of thousands of people. And yet, the land is not cleansed. There has been no falling on their knees before God. And, until that happens its not finished.
    If you read Ezekial, you can see that God makes it very clear that the guilt of each man falls on his own head and we are not responsible for anyone else's guilt. Thank God! I believe it is right that the younger generations of Germans cry out "This is not our sin! Do not condemn us for what our grandparents have done!" It is not their sin anymore than I carry the sin of having slave owners in my family. I recognize the atrocity. I do not claim the guilt.
   In some ways I don't believe the church has ever completely recovered. During the Third Reich it was, quite literally, torn at the seams. You, see, although Germany has a rich Christian heritage, after the war, it was obvious that this in no way meant it had a moral center. And where does one go with this national guilt? I believe that it all stems from much deeper problem. Now, I will assume that those Christians out there reading this, even if you are not into the "uber spiritual" can agree with me that there is a Devil and he does "roam the earth like a roaring lion." Na gut. Then is it so unbelievable that the Third Reich with its innumerable horrors and murders, unleashed hellish realms hitherto unknown to mankind and called in some influences we had no way to deal with? The war was lost in Germany, Hitler is dead, life went back to the way it was before.... Do you really believe Satan would stop fighting for this territory? Do you think the demonic influences relishing in the private hells of concentration camps were just scattered to the four winds once man made treaties? How I wish that were so! Then perhaps, it would be unaccountable to see the exceedingly high suicide and depression rate that still exists in this land.
   The war's not over, it is only now fought in a spiritual and not a physical realm. The church in Europe is hearing its' death knell even as the overturning tides of Islam grows nearer and stronger. The German church can continue its sleep no longer for I believe the strong, beating hearts of this people are called to fight once more, this time not for evil but against it! "We do not fight against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities"- Ephesians 6. So, let us pray for strong warriors to rise up and shake the European church to life so that once more the light of the world can be found here!

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